Columns » Max Brantley

Political lowlights (lifes?)

News you read first, or exclusively, in the last few days on our Arkansas Blog.

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DEADBEAT: Mark Darr left office as lieutenant governor Feb. 1 owing the state more than $10,000 for bogus expense claims. After a dun from Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, he allegedly said he'd pay up soon. Some state employees have been prosecuted for taking taxpayer money to which they weren't entitled.

Maybe Asa Hutchinson or Tim Griffin, in their Republican campaign rounds, could stop by Crain Hyundai in Springdale and ask salesman Darr for a check to Arkansas taxpayers. I wouldn't suggest buying a used car from him.

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME: Gov. Mike Beebe made his last appointment to the state Board of Education this week. He named Kim Davis, a development officer for the Northwest Arkansas Council, to a seat held by Brenda Gullett. Gullett was a defender of conventional public schools and sometimes skeptical of the lobbyists and lawyers for the Waltons and others in the Billionaire Boys Club who push charter schools, vouchers, virtual schools and unlimited school district transfers. Davis, 43, is qualified. He holds multiple education degrees, is a former teacher and is credited with a successful anti-dropout program. He also works for a business development group supported by Walmart and Sam's Club. His wife works for Sam's Club.

REPUBLICAN HURST TARGETS 4-YEAR-OLD: City Director Stacy Hurst, a Republican candidate for state House, papered the Little Rock School District with FOI requests to find out about — wait for it — the pre-K school assignment of Ellis Tucker, 4, son of her Democratic opponent, Clarke Tucker. WTF? I still haven't figured it out. Tucker's child didn't draw a preschool seat in the original lottery. Hurst seems to have been motivated by "cocktail party" gossip that Tucker tried to pull strings. He didn't. Oppo research on a 4-year-old? Cry the beloved democracy.

MR. BIGSHOT: Rogers City Attorney Ben Lipscomb is under investigation for allegedly claiming he was an undercover cop to get VIP access to a Miranda Lambert concert at the Walmart AMP. This provided an opportunity to remember bullying by Lipscomb in 2010 in service to another bully, then-mayor and now Congressman Steve Womack. Stephen Coger, a UA student then and later a Fulbright scholar, wrote the mayor about his tough police policy on immigrants, which discouraged reports of domestic abuse by people fearing deportation.

Wrote Womack in response:

"Stephen, frankly, your email is offensive to me. It is offensive to me as a mayor, a veteran, a taxpayer, and a law-abiding CITIZEN of the United States. ... If you seriously disagree with my position, you should move to Rogers, run for mayor, and try that BS on the rank-and-file citizens of this city."

Typical Womack. And butt-kisser Lipscomb couldn't resist a gratuitous letter of his own in response to Coger's polite request for consideration of family issues. Lipscomb wrote:

"How dare you be so presumptuous as to offer YOUR legal services to MY clients, Mayor Womack and the City of Rogers? [Coger had not done so.] I consider your offer of legal services to my client to be indicative of questionable ethics, not to mention colossal affrontary[sic] and poor grace."

Speaking of poor grace: Lipscomb also sent this comment to Col. Womack on the matter:

"Boo yah!!"

Funny. That was my reaction when I'd heard they sent the long arm of the law after an officious city bureaucrat who attempted to get special favors by virtue of his public position. Lipscomb, I'm also reminded, is famous for once being forced to wave his white underwear on a stick to attract air searchers after he got marooned on a duck hunt.

Boo yah!!!

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